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Are You Asleep?

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Sermon on Mark 14.32-42

Title:  Are you Sleeping?

Theme:  Christ calls his followers to be spiritually awake and ready for the betrayal of the Son of Man.

Goal:  to encourage Christians to be awake to what ways Christ needs us.

Need:  Christians are often undisciplined disciples, falling asleep when Christ is in the moments of most need.


  1. Intro about our sleepiness.
  2. Christ’s Need:  OVERWHELMED SOUL
  3. Disciples Task:  STAY AND WATCH
  4. Disciples Mistake:  SLEEP
  5. Our Mistake:  SLEEP at the time of deepest need

Sermon in Oral Style

          Sleep tells us a thing or two about ourselves doesn’t it.

          Your sleepiness can tell you something about your health.  When you catch a cold or the flu or something like that, your body often needs more sleep than it did when you were feeling well.  Maybe that’s the thing that hits you first when you are starting to get sick.  That fatigue and weariness that just wipes you out.  Sleep says you are sick.

          It could also say something of your stress levels.  I bet most of us have had a night or two where something has caused such weight on our heart or such worry on our minds that it leads us to be up at night.  And then since you couldn’t sleep the night before, you end up being sleepy all the next day.  Hopefully you can find peace and break the cycle of stress can keep people half alert for day and night for weeks.

          Another thing that sleep can tell you about yourself is where you are placing your priorities.  Really?  Yeah, I believe so.

          One example from my life would come from my younger days at Dordt College.  It was the strangest thing.  Almost every class I would be in I would do fine for a few minutes and then, as the professor would be talking and as I would be taking notes.  Then it would be like I would go into screensaver mode.  Eyes are still open kind of.  But there’s no processing going on.  Why would that be going on?  I mean, I was getting all of 4 or 5 hours of sleep.  Starting homework at 11 pm.  I was committed to my education, but I put more priority on having a good time with friends and “getting the most” out of the university experience.

          Sleep sure can say a lot about us.

          Sleep is the focus of what is going on in the passage we have for this morning.  And it leads to this question from the last week of Jesus’ life:  Are you Asleep?

          In the passage, Jesus and the disciples have just finished with the Last Supper together.   Jesus told them that one of them will betray him and then they all are so confident of their faithfulness to Christ that they say, “Surely Not I, Lord?”  After the supper, Jesus goes to Gethsemane with his disciples.

          Gethsemane is a secluded little Olive Grove and Press near the Mount of Olives out side of Jerusalem.  Jesus would always go away to secluded areas to teach his disciples the hidden things of God, or to be in deep fervent prayer.

          This time, Jesus is going away to pray.  He tells most of disciples to sit down a ways away while he goes to pray.  He only brings Peter, James, and John further on.  Then he also tells them to stop while he goes even further way to pray.

          But I want you to think about what is going on inside of Christ.  Verse 33 says, “He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.  “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them.  Stay here and keep watch.”

          Have you ever seen a friend go through something like Christ is going through right here?  Doesn’t it feel just awful when someone you care about is obviously going through something like they have never experienced before.  A good friend wants to walk right along with their friend when they are going through those moments.  When they are seeming to be overwhelmed with sorrow, when they are deeply distressed and deeply troubled.  A good friend stands close and offers the support that is needed.  A good friend makes a priority of serving that friend in whatever way they can.

          Jesus is agonizing because he knows what he must go through.  Being crucified is the easy part.  Jesus will be abandoned by God.  Jesus will become the sin of the world.  He will be destroyed so everyone else could live.

“Father, take this cup from me.  But your will be done.”

          Jesus’ soul is agonizing and in the midst of that sort of trouble, friends will truly prove themselves.

          Jesus’ disciples probably didn’t have much of an idea what was going on, but they had just sworn their allegiance to Christ again.  They had convinced themselves that they were Christ’s good friends who would never let him down. 

          Jesus gives them one task to do.  Verse 34.  As my friends, Stay and watch.  That’s all they need to do.  They just need to stay and watch for him.

          No problem Jesus.  Stay here.  Stay awake.

          That shouldn’t be too tough.  Remember its still a holiday.  Passover.  That’s the reason for the bread and wine with the disciples just before this.  And usually, after the Passover meal, they would stay up really late, like 10 or 11 o’clock telling the story of redemption of Israel from Egypt.  The disciples shouldn’t have any problem staying up.  This is Passover after all.

          But that command keep watch, it is laced with meaning of be ready because Christ is going to go away, but he is going to come back.  He’s told his disciples many parables and teachings where he has said be watching.  He has told them to keep their lamps full of oil waiting so they don’t miss it when Christ completes the act of salvation for his people.  Don’t be sleeping when he comes back from heaven to be with his people.  When he actually condemns those who weren’t watching and let’s all those who were faithfully waiting for him to celebrate forever with him.  For Christ’s sake, Peter, James and John, Keep WATCHING!

           Jesus returns from wrestling in prayer with God.  In the midst of his fatigue and pain, when maybe all he needs is to see that he truly does have the complete love and support of his friends.  That’s where the question comes.  ARE YOU ASLEEP!?!?  Have you let me down?  Wake up!  Watch and pray so that you don’t fall away. 

          But it happens again.  And again.  The disciples can’t do it.  You can almost picture some of the disciples getting more and more comfortable in their “watching” positions.  Then--- gone--- sound asleep.

          Why did they fall asleep?  Maybe they just couldn’t help it?  Maybe they were plain warn out from the day?  Maybe they were weary from the idea that one of them would betray Christ and he would die because of it?

          And Maybe, the reason for their sleeping doesn’t really make much of a differenence.  Whatever it was, it shows that they couldn’t make it an ultimate priority that they pray with Christ, and keep watch with Christ in his darkest moments.  Is it possible that deep down, internally, they really didn’t believe Christ’s warnings.  Is it possible that deep down they figured everything would just kind of turn out alright in the end?  Is it possible that the whole, following Jesus around praying wasn’t “doing it” for them all the time?

          Whatever you say is behind the sleep of the disciples, Christ’s rebuke shows us they have let him down in his time of need.  As a friend, and as a follower.  They are asleep.  They have left Christ when he told them not to.  When he needed them the most.

          What about us?  Do you consider Christ your friend?  Do you consider Christ you Lord?  However you want to look at it, Christ calls us to stay awake?  Christ asks us to keep watch, to be on our guard.  Lent is all about refocusing our lives and our attention on the one thing that really matters most, that’s our living out of our faith in Jesus Christ.

          Don’t you ever feel like you might be just like the disciples.  Maybe its in one of our friendships today.  We have been friends with someone for so long.  We have done everything together.  They are just that good of friends.  But are they going through a time right now where they are experiencing some struggle in their life.  All they need is someone to be their support.  To be there when they need help.  To be the pillar of strength and support while they are weak.

          Friendship and love is about that readiness to always help. 

          And what about with Christ.  Is he your friend and master.  Do we ever miss opportunities to love Christ because our priorities are out of line.  Have we ever missed the opportunity to pour out completely as Christ’s disciples because we are spiritually unavailable.  Are we zonked out asleep when Christ is waiting for us to show by our actions that we are there for him.  That we love him.  That he is our master and our friend?

          We need to stay awake for Christ.  Here’s some ideas for how to do that.  First of all be awake to the effect sin has on your life.  Take Christ’s words seriously.  Don’t fall into temptation.  Too much alcohol lately?  Too angry with your spouse lately?  Too lose with your tongue lately?  ARE YOU ASLEEP?  See the pain your mistakes will cause.

          Second, consider a boost of energy.  The Holy Spirit is at work in your life.  If God’s Word is like an energy drink, the Holy Spirit is the caffeine and ginseng and whatever other ingredients that sharpen you alertness.  If you look to the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s word, you will be awake for Christ.

          Third, stay a little uncomfortable.  The more completely comfortable we become with the pattern of our Sundays and the pattern of our faith week, the more likely we are going to get into that comfy spot.  Almost imperceptibly your eyes are going close.  Sleeping.  Shake up your faith.  Find a different way to do devotions.  Sit in a different spot in the church on Sunday.  Pray looking at the cross instead of day dreaming with your eyes closed and hands folded.  Buy a cow through CRWRC for a needy family.  Find something to help you do a few spiritual jumping jacks when you have gotten too comfy and the sleep is coming soon.

          Finally, consider how spectacular the reward is for those who stay awake.  If we stay spiritually awake, we will be allowed to be apart of the return of Christ.  Christ will come back.  Will he find us as his disciples asleep, missing our opportunities to love him.

          Are you asleep?  Be awake for Christ, and ready for opportunities to love him now, and when he returns.

This is God’s will from his word.  And all God’s people say.


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